5 Best Skills to Learn For Your Role As A Supply Chain Manager

Goodbye, back office, and hello, centre stage. While supply chain managers used to sit in the back office looking at the most affordable and quickest way to source products, they are now leading strategic decisions in most food processing factories. 

The supply chain manager's role has claimed its place within leadership. If the pandemic taught us anything, it's that the food processing industry needs supply chain managers who are quick to react and make the right decisions to minimise disruptions.

Supply chain managers have to hone in on soft skills they have always had, such as communication, strategic thinking, and problem-solving. Communication skills are as relevant as ever, where negotiation with suppliers, distributors, and other stakeholders is key. 

Working with cross-functional teams is part and parcel of the job role and calls for these soft skills to identify supply chain risks and implement alternatives. The pandemic highlighted the need for supply chain managers to have thorough crisis management skills as well. 

Couple this with automation and the focus on sustainability, and we have supply chain managers scrambling to upskill to meet the new demands of their jobs. 

It may be time to future-proof your supply chain skills. 

Here are some of the skills that supply chain managers need to upskill in to be better positioned to handle the future demands of a career in food processing.  

Top 5 upskilling requirements for supply chain managers  

  • Data Analysis: Supply chain managers need to be masters of data. They can leverage AI tools to analyse trends and patterns and make areas of improvement. Data analysis can help supply chain managers identify inefficiencies and take steps to streamline processes. It can also help them to make informed decisions about inventory management, supplier relationships, and transportation.

  • Analytical Skills: Automation has made it possible for supply chain managers to have greater visibility of the supply chain. They can track products, monitor inventory levels, and manage logistics in real time, enabling them to make informed decisions and respond quickly to changing circumstances.

  • Relationship Management: The food and beverage processing supply chain has become more interconnected. Supply chain managers need to have networking and interpersonal skills to work closely with suppliers, distributors, and other stakeholders to ensure that the supply chain functions smoothly.

  • Digital Supply Chain Integration: Supply chain managers need to understand digital technologies such as AI, automation, blockchain, and how to evaluate digital solutions to improve supply chain operations and work with IT teams to implement these solutions effectively. They must work collaboratively with cross-functional teams to ensure the successful digital transformation of supply chain management.

  • Knowledge in sustainable practices: Skills in sustainable waste reduction and product innovation are being considered as plants become more focused on lowering carbon emissions across the supply chain. 

The cheat guide to upskill as a supply chain manager

To give yourself a competitive advantage in the ever-changing food processing industry, the best advice is to continue to develop your skills. Here are some simple ways to continue upskilling whilst working a full-time job. 

  • Do a short course: Many companies offer short courses to learn new skills. Ask your employer what skill development programmes they have.


  • On-the-job training: By cross-training with other departments, you can get a better view of the entire company. Mentorship also plays a key role in upskilling. 

  • Read industry publications: There are many publications on supply chain management that can help supply chain managers keep up to date with the latest trends and knowledge in their industry. 

At the end of the day, supply chain managers with a background in traditional supply chains combined with strong communication and automation skills will be better equipped to compete in the evolving food processing industry. If you are looking for your next job position in supply chain management, QTalent can give you the upper hand. 

QTalent connects food and beverage manufacturers with top supply chain managers in the food & beverage industry. With QTalent, you will get the best job listing straight to your inbox- matched based on your preferences, desired location, compensation package, and benefits- just to name a few criteria. 

Sign up today!

Romy Zwiers


Romy Zwiers is a journalist and marketing professional with 16 years of experience working across industries with a keen focus on the beverage and food industry, having worked with companies like KFC, Nandos, Cadbury and Coca-Cola.

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